Senator Cynthia Villar, the committee on agriculture chairperson, said that the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) is already in place, and there would be no chance of repealing it now.
During the Senate hearing on the proposed P86.3-billion budget of the Department of Agriculture, Villar said that rice traders are criticizing the law, which puts a 35% tariff on imported rice from Southeast Asia countries.
“Ang nagsasabi na mura [ang presyo ng palay] ay ‘yung mga trader para i-repeal ‘yung RTL. Eh ngayon, sinasabi ko sa inyo, hindi na mare-repeal ang RTL na ‘yan,” the senator who sponsored the law said.
“Pagbutihin na lang natin ang trabaho natin. Walang magmo-move na i-repeal ang RTL… Mayroon tayong commitment sa WTO (World Trade Organization) na we will open rice importation with tariff. And that has been postponed for a very long period of time kaya ngayon hindi na talaga pwedeng i-postpone,” she added.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Rice Tariffication Law in February 2019. It allowed the unlimited importation of rice in the Philippines by removing all volume restrictions.
A few months after its implementation, the palay prices in the Philippines sank to P7-P10 per kilo.
Villar: No chance of repealing Rice Tariffication Law
Villar said the goal of the Rice Tariffication Law is to make the local rice farmers competitive and eventually help them achieve “lower input costs in the production of rice through mechanization and use of better seeds through the funds that will be raised from import duties.”
“Sa Vietnam, P6 per kilo ang puhunan nila ng palay. ‘Yung Thailand P8 per kilo… Kaya tayo nagwo-work this next six years para ma-attain man lang natin yung P8. Walang repeal ‘yan kaya tigilan niyo na ‘yang wishful thinking niyo na repeal,” she said.
Villar asked the DA and its attached agencies to assist the rice farmers, for now, to sell their produce at higher prices.
The senator said the National Food Authority and the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization should ensure that farmers can access drying facilities.
“Mag-drying kayo, tulungan mo ang farmer kasi nakita mo sa presyo kapag basa [ang palay], ang mura-mura… Nakita natin ang presyo P12, parang pareho ng kanilang puhunan,” Villar said.
“Kaya kailangan mag-dry para mabili nang mahal. Para naman kumita ‘yung farmer, nang hindi complain nang complain,” she added.